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Orlando City B Improved Its Shot Selection in 2020

Many things have changed for OCB this season and shot selection is a noticeable one.

Image courtesy of Orlando City B

There are several differences between Orlando City B in 2019 and 2020. This year, there are more players out of the academy and the team presses better than it did a year ago. Another difference is that this year’s team is taking better shots.

The offensive strategy under former OCB Head Coach Fernando Jose De Argila Irurita was to take as many shots as possible throughout a game. It didn’t matter where those shots came from so long as they were taking more shots than the other team.

“I think the more shots the team has, the equation is easy,” the coach said after an early-season game last year.

The problem with that philosophy is that you’ll undoubtedly be taking lower-percentage shots from longer distances.

Last season, the team’s shot leader was Serginho, who primarily played as a defensive midfielder alongside Austin Amer. He took 34 shots in 24 games — nearly a shot and a half per game. The team’s primary striker in 2019 was William Bagrou. In 23 appearances, he only took 16 shots — sixth most on the team.

The Young Lions took 319 shots during the 2019 season. While 130 of those shots came from inside the box, 189 came from further than 18 yards away. The number of shots from outside the box could’ve been much higher but a shift occurred after OCB made a coaching change on July 25, replacing De Argila with academy coach Robert Sibaja.

Under De Argila, OCB only took more shots from inside than outside the box on three occasions. Two of those games were back-to-back wins over Toronto FC II and the Richmond Kickers — the only back-to-back wins the team had all season. The third came a month later in a 2-0 loss to Lansing Ignite FC, a game in which the Young Lions only recorded seven total shots.

In the final four games of the USL League One season, OCB took at least the same number of shots inside as it did outside the box, topping that number twice. It was an obvious change for a team that had spent most of the season shooting from long distance.

The change in philosophy has carried over into the 2020 season. Through nine games under new head coach Marcelo Neveleff, the Young Lions have taken 107 shots with 59 coming from inside the box and 48 coming from outside the area. While defensive players led the team in shots in 2019, attackers Moises Tablante and Wilfredo Rivera are leading the team this year.

OCB might be more selective with its shooting in 2020, but it’s not taking fewer shots. The team took 319 shots in 28 games last year — about 11.4 shots per game. The average number of shots has increased in 2020, with the team taking 107 shots in nine games for an average of about 11.8 shots per game.

The Young Lions have reached double-digit shots six times this season, a feat achieved 18 times in 2019. On three occasions last year, the team topped its highest shot output this season. While the Young Lions reached a team-high of 16 shots on Aug. 28 against South Georgia Tormenta FC, they shot 20 times once and 17 times twice last season.

The fact that OCB has had better shot selection this year than last year doesn’t mean that it will have a higher conversion rate. High-percentage shots can still miss the mark. But it means that it will have a greater chance of hitting the target. That’s especially important in games where it might have less possession and take fewer shots.

OCB is different in 2020 than it was in 2019. The roster has changed greatly, a different coaching staff is in charge, and the philosophy has changed from a year ago. The team’s shot selection is a difference that’s already recognizable.